The apparent gender bias towards the masculine, in some published articles in these early writings of 2005, was not intentional but a figure of speech. An excuse of it being an oversight would not be true as it was a result of an ignorance towards this nuance. Over time the author, who is a practicing yogi realised the importance of correcting this gender prejudice in writings even if unintended and habitual; the covert and overt bias this creates in an already patriarchal society towards women can be hugely influenced by writers, in this instance those engaged in matters of the spirit, where God in the finality is mostly addressed as He! By making this simple course correction without the accompanying fanaticism, yogic teachers can do a great service towards respecting gender equality.
She accredits this realisation to her personal yogic practice wherein while sitting in sadhana theres no consciousness of her gender or that of the divine....in fact there is no other consciousness except Consciousness.
Connecting to one's sacred self with Yoga
The Tribune, Friday, October 14, 2005, Chandigarh, India
Yoga trainer Jyoti Subramanian elaborates on the various branches of Yoga.
Good health is not just related to the physical body. Complete health has to permeate the physical, emotional and mental. This is where the practice of yoga plays such an important role. The practitioner not only cures the physical ailments but also moves in to cure the emotional or mental reasons for the disease and progresses to understanding his innate divine nature.
Often novitiates are perplexed by the variety or branches of yoga available and propagated-Patanjali yoga, Kundalini yoga, Hatha yoga, Ashtanga yoga, Raja yoga, Kriya yoga, Hamsa yoga, Iyengar yoga and now Bikram yoga- the list is endless.
Patanjali codified yoga in the treatise 'Yoga Sutras' in the year 200 BCE. Even then, he is not the originator, the knowledge of Yoga having come from the Mahayogi Shiva himself.
All yoga that is taught today, which includes the ones mentioned above has its origin in Patanjali who has systematically recorded all the practices of yoga. So we can visualise Patanjali as this big umbrella from where all forms of yoga come.
Ashtanga means 'eight limbs'. Now according to Patanjali the Tree of Yoga has eight limbs, yama (restraints) and niyama (observances) are the first two and comprise the following qualities taught to children by their parents and teachers through example: non-violence, truthfulness, freedom from greed, control of sensual pleasures, non-stealing, compassion, moderate eating, austerity, contentment, belief in divinity, charity, company of men of wisdom.
Third comes asanas, for steadiness of posture, good physical health and lightness of body.
Fourth is pranayam, a technique to make the respiratory organs move intentionally as against automatic habitual breathing. One learns to harness the mind via the medium of breath.
Pratyahar being the fifth limb is a process of reversal of energy. Our sense organs, always attracted to the external, are drawn inwards seeking their own divinity.
Dharana, Dhyan and Samadhi are final three stages; a single point attention with the mind unwavering and unruffled, a merging of the one meditating and meditated upon- the true state of meditation and finally the state where the yogi realises the individual self to be a part of the universal self. Therefore all yoga has to be part of ashtanga.
Hatha Yoga ignores the first two: yama and niyama and concerns itself with the practice of asanas, pranayam and pratyahar. Raja yoga concerns itself with dharana, dhyan and Samadhi.
Most yogis normally practice a combination of Hatha-Raja yoga. The former to maintain the physical body as a fit vehicle and the latter for spiritual evolution leading to union of the individual self with the divine self.
By tradition, Kriya yoga was never taught publicly, normally communicated verbally by master to disciple. Even today though many masters are authorising their disciples to teach this practice.
It is essential to be initiated by the master to enliven the process. Kriya yoga is the practice of Kundalini yoga and both are part of Raja yoga. Hamsa yoga, a special form of yoga practiced by the Himalayan yogis is also part of Raja yoga.
- Hamsacharya Jyotii Subramanian was introduced to yoga in 1972. She teaches the New Life Awakening techniques of Hamsa Yog and Babaji Kriya Yog.
Tuning the body with asanas
The Tribune, October 20, 2005, Chandigarh, India
After learning the tenets of yama (restraints) and niyama (observances), the first two limbs of Yoga from his elders, the child is ready to attend to the body and the mind. Patanjali puts forth very clearly the circumstances conducive to practising yoga - a small room in a solitary place protected from disturbances of all kinds, a country in which justice is properly administered, where good people live and food can be obtained easily and plentifully.
He also gives the grounds that interfere in the practise of yoga - over-eating, exertion, talkativeness, adhering to strict rules such as bathing in cold water in the morning and practising strict diets.
While, enthusiasm, courage, perseverance, correct understanding of the gurus instructions and determination are the qualities that encourage speedy learning.
Hatha yoga is called the science of purification - the body through asanas and the mind through pranayama.
The body is perceived as a temple and the practice the process of cleansing this house of God.
By the practice of asanas, the yogi makes the body a fit vehicle for the soul. Asanas correct the posture and makes it steady. Accurate constant practice brings ease and comfort in the physical body. All the systems of the body such as the circulatory, digestive, respiratory, excretory and lymphatic start to function more efficiently. As the toxins are flushed out the body feels rejuvenated and old stubborn symptoms amend as the very nature of the body is transformed.
Asanas follow the three basic natural human postures of sitting, standing and lying down. Due to habits learnt in childhood, lack of guidance as teenagers or perhaps constraints of workplace, one often develops a weak or incorrect posture leading to symptoms, such as hunchback, back ache, spinal injuries, and deformities to the limbs, feeble legs or chest. Idiosyncrasy in lifestyle leading to indigestion, heartburn, obesity, constipation or piles- the list is endless.
Asanas attempt to correct these debilitating ailments and bring relief to the practitioner by first identifying the problem, removing the pain if any, then strengthening the body part. The postures relieve unnatural tensions held in the body and bring balance and ease.
Every part of the body is worked, the muscles, the organs even the bones. Standing postures strengthen the legs, thigh, knees and spine; sitting postures expand the diaphragm freeing the lungs to breathe, brings suppleness to the back and spine, and works on the hip, knee, ankle and pelvic joints bringing elasticity to them. The spinal twists not only make the spine supple but also massage and squeeze the internal organs to improve circulation leading to efficiency in their functioning. The lying down asanas include forward and back bends, the inverted postures and the most favoured asana of students the 'savasana', the corpse pose.
The benefits are many, the lengthening of the spine regulates the nervous system, shoulder stands and headstands circulate the blood more freely to the upper organs by reversing the flow.
The practice of asanas leaves one invigorated, rejuvenated and free of stress. Balance and steadiness in the body then leads balance and steadiness in the mind.
-Hamsacharya Jyotii Subramanian teaches the new life awakening techniques of Hamsa Yog and Babaji Kriya Yog in Chandigarh.
Food for perfect body balance
The Tribune, October 27, 2005, Chandigarh, India
An understanding of your body type, 'dosha' is of paramount importance on the path of yoga.
An individual who is exceptionally irritated on windy days is probably a Vata person. Being sluggish and lazy are the traits of a Kapha dominated individual, and an argumentative person may be responding to a Pitta personality.
For a novice, there are many ways to check your body type; you can visit a reputed ayurveda physician, or answer questionnaires available in the net or in books and get a general idea.
"You become what you eat", goes the old adage, and according to ayurveda, every individual is considered unique and needs special individualised diet for perfect balance of doshas, so what may be taboo for one maybe an essential part of another's diet.Factors such as age and gender, tendencies to vata, pitta or kapha, the level of toxins in the body and even the season and climatic condition of the place play a part in deciding the ideal diet. To take full benefit of the practice of Yoga, right food has to be an integral part of a yogi's diet.
But even without any special guidance it's possible to follow a reasonably easy regimen while choosing your food to get that fine sense of well being.
Instead of emphasising on vitamins, minerals, calcium and proteins, the ayurvedic diet believes that all six tastes should be satiated in any complete meal. The six tastes being: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent.
Pepper and garlic, ginger and turmeric, asafoetida, fennel, chillies and jaggery, coriander, cloves and cardamom are all part of the staple Indian kitchen. Even vegetables, fruits, lentils and grains fall in the category of these six tastes, sour lemons and sweet carrots, pungent ginger and garlic, astringent cabbage or apples to name a few.
To satiate different cravings and to balance the appetite and digestion our grandmothers used these judiciously.
As much as possible incorporate fresh, seasonal vegetables and fruits in the diet. In today's life of fast transport and globalisation, we have mangoes and watermelons in winters and winter vegetables in the summer. These create an imbalance in the body for the physical body is inured to the local weather and by feeding it out of season food we confuse the body's metabolic intelligence leading to the production of toxins that translate into disease.
By going on diets that leave out carbohydrates and include proteins or fruit juice, we are starving the body of essential nourishment.
Each body type has a particular shape and physical attribute. Kapha people are generally plump with the pitta type being of medium build and the vata light and thin.
In our desire to lose weight, we tamper with this essential body type that we are born with, again leading to imbalance.
Obesity is a problem that can affect any body-type and the reasons for this can range from physical, hormonal to psychological. The ayurvedic diet will include different textures of light and heavy, warm and cold according to the individual's body type. Cheese, butter, ghee and nuts all play their part in the balanced nutrition and well-being of the body.
Activate your chakras to realise bliss
The Tribune, November 03, 2005, Chandigarh, India
FOR a serious practitioner of yoga, the knowledge of the 'Chakra' system in the body is of paramount importance.
The literary meaning of the word chakra is spinning wheel and in yoga it refers to psychic vortexes of energy aligned along the spine.
The presence of these dynamos of power in the body has been validated scientifically with modern instruments that measure bio-thermal and electrical activities in the body and photographic equipment that capture auras.
The seven major 'chakras' are Muladhar, the root chakra on the pelvic plexus; Swadhisthan, the sacral chakra on the hypogastric plexus; Manipur, the navel chakra on the epigastric plexus; Anahat, the heart chakra on the cardiac or solar plexus; Vishuddhi, the throat chakra on the carotid plexus; Adnya, the brow chakra on the medulla plexus; and Sahasrar, the crown chakra on the cerebral plexus.
Aligned along the various plexuses and placed above the ductless glands these energy centres gather and distribute energy in the body.
Ideally the chakras spin and draw in the universal life force energy called Pran to keep the spiritual, mental, emotional and physical health of the body in balance.
But as we live in stressful unnatural conditions regulated by social mores, family upbringing, limited mindset and preconditioned bigoted views, the efficiency of the charkas is effected.
When these spinning wheels in the body get congested the flow of energy also slows down leading to blockages that become areas of discomfort in the body leading to disease.
So the physical manifestation of the disease is the last stage of the ailment which has been present in the mental or emotional body for much longer.
For example, constantly feeling the weight of responsibility at work or at home and letting it effect you may very well lead to continued stress in the shoulder muscles developing into the condition of spondilitis.
Similarly, high pressure at workplace, anxiety about deadlines, meeting ever expanding targets at work can, if unchecked, lead to ulcers, indigestion or chronic stomach problems.
The practice of yoga helps in diffusing such situations by making the practitioner tap the inner source of strength.
Though you may not be able to change the external conditions, you change the way you react to the circumstances.
A complete yoga programme will include exercises for balancing and activation of the charkas. Rather than treating only the physical body for a disease, a yoga teacher helps the practitioner to heal holistically. As the chakras are awakened and activated, you will realise that the spring of joy and happiness is within you.